Saturday, February 28, 2015


The name emerald means “green gem”. It is an ancient Greek word. The reason its green in color is because of traces of chromium and vanadium in the stone. Emerald is also known as a Beryl.
Gemstones are graded by color, cut, clarity and carat weight. Color is the most important aspect of a stone’s grade is color. But when it comes to grading emeralds, clarity is just as important. In emeralds, they must be a pure green and have a high degree of transparency.

When grading the color of a gemstone, it must have three components: tone, saturation and hue. Emeralds can have a yellow-green to blue-green hues. But green must be the most dominate color in the stone.

Only emeralds that are a medium to dark green are considered true emeralds. Lighter toned stones are considered green beryl. The hue of an emerald should be bright, not dull.
Emerald comes from the beryl family which includes blue aquamarine, yellow heliodor, pink morganite, red beryl and bixbite.

Emeralds are graded by the eye, not a magnification like diamonds. Almost all emeralds are oiled to enhance apparent clarity. The most valuable emeralds are clean, have a vivid green hue and a medium to dark tone. Most emeralds are cut in an oval or emerald cut.

The reason emeralds are oiled is because it improves their clarity and stability and fills in any cracks it may have. Cedar oil is used to do this, but synthetic oils can also be used. This is done in a vacuum chamber under mild heat to open the pores of the stone and allow the oil to fill in the fractures and be absorbed. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission requires that it be disclosed when this treatment is done. The use of oil is accepted by the gem trade, but untreated emeralds are worth much more. The use of tinted oil to enhance the color is not acceptable.

Emerald is the May birthstone and the astrological sign for Taurus, Gemini and sometimes Cancer.

The goddess Minakshi at India’s most famous temple (Madurai Minakshiamman) is carved out of a single of emerald stone.

Friday, February 27, 2015


Tourmaline is considered a semi-precious stone and it comes in many different colors. This stone is a mineral with traces of potassium, lithium, sodium, magnesium, iron and aluminum.

Bright colored tourmaline gemstones were brought to Europe in mass quantities by the Dutch East India Company to satisfy demand. Tourmaline can attract and then repel hot ashes because of its pyroelectric properties.

Tourmaline was used in the 19th century by chemists to polarize light by shining light onto a cut and polished gem.

Schorl is the most common type of tourmaline and accounts for about 95% of all tourmaline found. It was used before the 1400s by Saxons in Germany. This group of Saxons mined for it along with tin near their village. They found black tourmaline.

The name Tourmaline means “stone attracting ash”.

Tourmaline has six rings of cyclosilicate and is long and slender (sometimes thick) and has crystals that accumulate in columns.  This stone is typically asymmetrical. Sometimes small columns have a daisy pattern.  

Tourmaline is easily recognizable by its three-sided prisms. This is what makes it unlike any other type of stone.

Tourmaline comes in many different colors. It can be black, bluish-black, deep brown, yellow, blue, green, red and pink. It all depends on what traces of other types of materials are in the gem. Sometimes, although rare, it can even be colorless. But multicolored tourmaline is common. It could be green on one end and turn to pink on the other end. Some tourmaline can even change color, depending on what angle you are looking at it from. Pink and red tourmaline has low magnetic qualities. Black and yellow tourmaline has magnetic qualities because of iron and manganese in the stone. Green, yellow and blue colored tourmaline can be magnetic as well.
Tourmaline is found in granite, marble and schist. It is a durable mineral and can also be found in sandstone and other highly weathered sediments.
Tourmaline gems, usually pink and red ones, are treated with heat to richen their color and value.

During the early 1900s the United States, mostly Maine and California, were the world’s largest producers of tourmaline. China especially loved pink tourmaline and purchased large quantities of it from the United States. Tourmaline was first discovered in the U.S. in 1822. Native Americans have used pink and green tourmaline as gifts at funerals for centuries.

Brazil, Africa and Afghanistan are also major producers of tourmaline.

Tourmaline is used to detoxify the human body. It actually emits negative ions and far-infrared rays. Tourmaline means “stone mixed with vibrant colors”. It is also considered a magic protection stone for whoever wears it.

There have been studies on tourmaline’s ability to relieve stress, increase mental alertness, improve circulation and strengthen the immune system. It cleanses the nervous system, organs and other tissues. It helps stabilize the nervous system due to the fact that it generates its own heat. It self-produces its own electrical charge.
Some of the benefits of Tourmaline are:
Aid in fat loss
Reduction of water retention
Improves blood circulation
Gets rid of waste
Cleanses liver and kidneys
Heals skin disorders
Reduces emotional issues like anxiety and depression
Relieves acute and chronic illnesses
Helps eliminate heavy metals, poisons and carcinogenic material

Reduces lactic and fatty acids

Thursday, February 26, 2015


Garnet is a group of silicate minerals that have been used as gemstones and abrasives since the Bronze Age.

All types of garnets have similar properties as crystal formations, but are different in their chemical make up.

Garnet can be many different colors ranging from colorless to black, brown, blue, pink, purple, green, yellow, orange and red.

The rarest garnet is the blue garnet which was found in the late 1990s in Madagascar. It can also be found in Russia, Tanzania, Turkey, Kenya and even in the United States. Its color changes from blue-green in the daylight, to purple in incandescent light. There are pretty high traces of vanadium in garnet.

Garnet can be gemstone quality if it is transparent and used as an abrasive if it is opaque. Its luster can be glass-like to amber-like.

The Garnet is a regeneration and energizing stone. It boosts your energy and brings stability and order to chaos.

Garnet is also a protection stone from evil, nightmares and wounds. It is said to release bad karma. It is a root chakra stone brings abundance, prosperity and realization to dreams. It builds self-confidence, inspiration and creativity. It also makes your life purpose clear. It helps in aiding memory.

This stone is considered to increase commitment, honesty, hope and faith. It helps with positive thoughts and dispels depression. It will help you overcome a crisis or trauma. It helps you get over feelings of helplessness and encourages courage. It eliminates abandonment issues and fear. It reduces self-sabotage and enhances positive and calming feelings. It can also help you realize and enjoy pleasures of this life like sensuality, sexuality, intimacy and fashion. Also, love and passion.

It is also a spiritual healing stone, used to enhance intuition, growth and inner strength.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Amethyst is mainly used in jewelry and other decorations and is typically a shade light pink to dark purple, but can also be shades of red and blue. It is a type of quartz.

The name Amethyst is Greek and means “intoxicated”. It refers to the belief that this stone prevented whoever owned it from being drunk. Many ancient Greeks wore amethyst and they even made vessels for drinking that were decorated with this beautiful stone. They believed by drinking from these vessels, you wouldn't become intoxicated. Amethyst is considered a semi precious stone and is the February birthstone.

The reason that Amethyst is purple is because of traces of iron in the quartz stone. The more iron in the stone, the deeper the coloring.  

The most varieties of Amethyst are found in Brazil, the far east, Siberia and Sri Lanka.

The most valuable grade is called “Deep Siberian” and has a deep purple hue that makes up about 75%- 80% of it’s color. The remaining 15%- 20% of the coloring is blue or red.

Amethyst does not come in any shades of green, which is a common mistake. If it looks like amethyst, but is green in color, it is probably Prasiolite, Vermarine (green quartz) or Lime Citrine.

There is a technique to cutting amethyst, due to the parallel stripes of color on the face of the crystal. Cutting this stone should be done in a way that makes the final product homogeneous. Sometimes the coloring is only a thin surface layer of the stone and one must be careful.

When amethyst is heated, it turns a yellow-brown, yellow-orange or brownish color and can resemble citrine. Amethyst can fade if exposed to light, but can be artificially darkened with irradiation.

The ancient Egyptians used amethyst as a gemstone and the Greeks had their beliefs about it preventing intoxication. Medieval Europeans wore amethyst into battle as a protection stone and believed that it could heal people and keep them calm. The Anglo-Saxons used amethyst on their graves found in England. Western Christian bishops will wear rings with amethyst to prove that they are not drunk.

Amethyst was once just as valuable as diamonds, emeralds and rubies. But after a plethora of it was found in Brazil, the value has actually went down.

Today people use amethyst as a powerful healing stone. It is said to connect with the 6th & 7th chakras and promotes healing of emotional damage, headaches and pain. It enhances intuition, lucid dreams and promotes peacefulness. Also used as protection.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Boronite is also called Peacock Ore. It is an important copper ore mineral that occurs widely in porphyry copper deposits along with the more common chalcopyrite. It has a brown to copper-red color on fresh surfaces and it tarnishes to a variety of iridescent shades of blue and purple. This is what gives it its nick name Peacock Ore or Peacock Copper.

Boronite has about 63 percent of copper content within it which gives it its value.

At temperatures about 442.45 degrees Fahrenheit it becomes a single unit cell. It is based on closely packed sulfur atoms, with copper and iron atoms distributed throughout, into six tetrahedral sites. When it cools, it comes into order.

Boronite occurs throughout the world in copper ores. Mostly found in Butte, Montana and Bristol, Connecticut in the U.S. It is also found and mined from England and Illogan. Large crystals have been found in the Alps, Austria, Zimbabwe, Talate, Morocco, Tasmania, Kazakhstan, Dzhezkazgan. There are also traces of it found in Western Australia.

It was first recorded in 1725 in the mountains of Bohemia, which is now Czech Republic.

It is categorized as a sulfide mineral and is opaque. After being heated it can become magnetic.
This is such a beautiful specimen and is said to have healing properties. It is said to be a stone of happiness and joy and is suppose to help you tune into the positive side of life. It helps you accept the joy in any given moment. It helps you to distinguish between the positive and the negative. It is also said to help bring all of your chakras into alignment. It helps remove negative energy and replaces it with positive. It also helps with the flow of adrenalin. It helps bring harmony to your emotions as well. Also, it’s said to help dissolve the separation between you and God.

There are so many things this magnificent stone does, everybody should own and wear a piece of it!

Monday, February 23, 2015


Mining dates back to ancient times and was conducted by many different cultures for many different reasons and many different types of geological materials that are extracted from the earth.

The types of materials from the earth that are mined come from a reef, seam, vein, lode or ore body.

Ore bodies can contain clay, gravel, rock salt, potash, dimension stone, gemstones, limestone, coal, metals and oil shale.

Mining is necessary in order to obtain these materials because they cannot be artificially created in a laboratory or factory. Neither can they be grown through agricultural processes.

Technically, the retrieval of petroleum, water, natural gas and non-renewable resources is considered mining as well.

The mining of stone and metal is the earliest kind of mining, done since pre-historic times.

The current mining process consists of prospecting, estimate of potential profit, extraction and reclamation of the land after the mining has been done.

When mining is done, it can actually have a negative impact on the environment because of the mining process and the damage it does to the land after it is done. Because of this, there are now regulations created to minimize any negative effects caused from mining.

Since the beginning of civilization, humans have used metals, ceramics and stone from the surface of the earth. We have used these materials for the creation of weapons and tools.

The oldest known mine is in Swaziland and is called the “Lion Cave”. Radiocarbon dating estimates the age of the mine to be about 43,000 years old. Paleolithic humans believed to be Neanderthals were the ones who created this mine.

Ancient Egyptians mined for malachite which is a bright green stone they used for pottery and ornaments. They also mined for turquoise, copper and gold. They used an ancient process called fire-setting, which would break down the hard rock holding the gold. They then crushed this rock into a fine powder and then washed it away with water, which left the gold dust for them to harvest. Mining in Egypt was done in the earliest known dynasties of their culture.

Ancient Greek and Roman mining were done in Europe and have a very long history as well. They mined for silver and created the first aqueducts to do this.

The Romans prospected for veins of ore and used a mining technique called hushing. Hushing involved them building aqueducts to bring water to the mine head where it was stored in reservoirs and tanks. Once the tank was full they opened it and the water would sluice away all the rock and dirt so that the vein would be revealed. They then used the fire-setting technique to heat and soften the rock, and followed that with another stream of water to put out the fire. This would cause a shock that would actually crack the rock, which allowed them to be able to remove it.

Mining was also done during Europe’s medieval times. The mining done during this time was mainly for precious metals that were used for coinage and gilding. Much of the metal they recovered was used for making chain link armor (which could weigh as much as 100 pounds for a single knight) as well as swords, lances and other weapons. They heavily depended on iron for this. They also used water mills for crushing ore an raising it from the shafts, as well as ventilation.

The invention of agricultural implements such as the iron plowshare created even more of a need for metal, creating a significant growth in the industry.

Mining in America dates back to prehistoric times as well. For example; Lake Superior has copper mines along the shores where metallic copper is still found near the surface to this day. The native Americans started this about 5,000 years ago. They used the material for things like tools, arrowheads and other artifacts. They used all of this for their trade network. They also mined for obsidian and flint.

Early French explorers came across these sites but made no use o them because of the difficulty of transporting them.

In Saskatchewan, Canada there are ancient quartz mines near Waddy Lake and the surrounding regions.

During early colonial history in Americas, native silver and gold was quickly exported back to Spain in fleets of galleons. The silver and gold came mostly from Central and South America. Turquoise was mined in pre-Colombian America as early as 700 A.D. About 15,000 tons of rock has been removed from Mt. Chalchihuitl in New Mexico using stone tools before 1700.  

Mining in the United States became extremely popular during the 19th century and the General Mining Act of 1872 was passed to encourage mining of federal lands.

The California Gold Rush during the mid- 19th century was the main factor for the Westward Expansion to the Pacific coast, along with ranching. Mining camps were set up along the west which “expressed a distinctive spirit, an enduring legacy to the new nation”. Many traveled west for work in the mining industry. Denver, Colorado and Sacramento, California where established first as mining towns.

Big Bear Lake was initially established as a mining town because of the gold found here by William Holcomb. Holcomb discovered gold in the back country after tracking a bear’s blood trail to a creek filled with gold flakes. He tried to keep it secret, but that didn't last long and word of the gold found spread. From 1860- 1875 this area was filled with prospectors. There are two distinctive mines that remain abandoned today; they are Lucky Baldwin Mine and Metzger Mine. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln is one of America’s most famous presidents. He was our 16th president and served from March of 1861 until his assassination on April 15th, 1865. He led the United States through the Civil War and its greatest moral, constitutional and political crisis ever in history. He won the war which kept our country unified and abolished slavery. This in turn strengthened our federal government as well as the economy.

He was born on February 12th, 1809 and grew up in the western frontier of Kentucky and Indiana. He was self-educated and became a lawyer in Illinois. He was a Whig Party leader and a member of the Illinois House of Representatives. He served as an Illinois Representative from 1834 to 1846. In 1846 Lincoln was elected into the United States House of Representatives. He promoted modernization of our economy through railroads, tariffs and banks. He was opposed to the Mexican-American Was which was not very popular among Illinois voters, so he did not return for a second term in Congress. Therefore he returned to Springfield and had a successful law practice.

Lincoln reentered politics in 1854 and he became a leader in building a new Republican Party, which was quite popular among Illinois voters. During a debate with a Democrat by the name of Stephen A. Douglas, he spoke out against the expansion of slavery, but lost in the U.S. Senate race.

Lincoln dominated votes in the North and was elected president in 1860. His election caused seven southern slave states to form the Confederate States of America before he was sworn into office.

The Confederate States of America attacked Fort Sumter on April 12th, 1861 and that caused the North to rally behind the Union. Lincoln focused on the military and political aspects of the war. His main goal was to reunite the nation. Lincoln suspended and arrested anyone accused of hindering the war efforts by blocking troop trains.

Lincoln centered his efforts on the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. He used the U.S. Army to protect slaves that had escaped to the North. He also encouraged all states to abolish slavery. He heavily pushed the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which permanently outlawed slavery. Lincoln tightly supervised the war effort, including the selection of top generals, one of which is quite popular: Ulysses S. Grant. He also made all major decisions on the strategy of the Union. One example is the naval blockade that shut down the South’s trade. He also made moves that took control of Kentucky and Tennessee and used gunboats to gain control of the southern river system.

Lincoln tried repeatedly to capture the Confederate Captain at Richmond. Grant finally did it in 1865.

Six days after the surrender of the Confederate commanding General Robert E. Lee, Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, who was a Confederate supporter.

Lincoln is considered one of our three greatest U.S. Presidents to this day.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Origins of St. Patrick’s Day

Every year on March 17th, the death of the most recognized and common patron saint of Ireland (Saint Patrick) is celebrated. Saint Patrick lived from AD 385- 461. The Festival of Patrick is a cultural and religious celebration, celebrated by the Irish and Irish at heart.

This holiday was made an official Christian feast day in the early seventeenth century. It is celebrated by public parades and festivals, the wearing of green and shamrocks and the consumption of large amounts of alcohol. The strict restrictions of eating and drinking of alcohol is lifted for this one day. This holiday is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, the Church of Ireland, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Lutheran Church. And now spreads throughout our culture, whether you are a church attendee or not, and whether you are Irish or not. This day recognizes the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and it also celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish people in general. Also, it is celebrated and recognized by Christians attending church services as well.

St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the United States, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Montserrat, Great Britain, Canada, Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland

What we know of St Patrick comes from the Declaration that he wrote himself. He was born in Roman Britain during the fourth century into a wealthy Romano-British family. His grandfather was a priest in the Christian Church and his father was a deacon. In the Declaration Patrick wrote, when he was just sixteen years old he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken to become a slave to Gaelic Ireland. He spent six years there working as a shepherd and during this time he found God. He writes that God told him to flee to the coast where there would be a ship waiting to take him home. After he made it home, he became a priest and evangelized to thousands of pagan Irish people in the Northern Ireland, converting them to Christianity.

St. Patrick died on March 17th, 461 AD and was buried at Downpatrick. Over the centuries there have been many legends that have been told about Ireland’s foremost saint.

So now when you recognize St. Patrick’s Day, you are thoroughly educated about what exactly you are celebrating. So kiss me, I’m Irish!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Groundhogs Day

Ever wonder where we get our traditional Groundhogs Day from? Here is some information on the origins of this nationally recognized day we all see year after year on the news stations:

Groundhog’s Day is more of a tradition than an accurate prediction of how much longer we will have to endure winter for. In fact, according to the records of Phil’s winter prognostications; the groundhog’s forecasting for the season is only 39% accurate.

The groundhog is also known as the woodchuck. The name woodchuck actually comes from an Indian legend of a groundhog called “Wojak”. Wojak was considered by the Indians to be an ancestral grandfather. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Interesting note: woodchucks CANNOT chuck wood. The groundhog eats green plants like dandelions, clovers and grasses in the wild.

On Groundhog’s Day, every year at 7:25 a.m. the groundhog appears out of its hole to make its prediction. It is kept in a heated burrow under a fake tree stump on a stage. It is fed dog food and ice cream in a climate-controlled home at the Punxsutawney Library throughout the year and weighs a whopping 15 pounds! Sounds like one spoiled little woodchuck to me.

Groundhog’s Day has German origin and was originally called Candlemas day. When German settlers arrived in the 1700s, they brought this tradition that originates in the pagan holiday of Imbolc. On this day it is recorded that the “Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back in for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate.”